Fact Check

RUMOR ALERT: 'Illegal Campaigning' in Philadelphia Polling Station?

More evidence is required before this claim can be rated in a traditional Snopes fact check, but it has certain traits associated with misinformation.

Published Nov. 3, 2020

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 03: Voters wait to cast their ballots at Rodef Shalom Synagogue on November 3, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans head to the polls on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Image Via Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Did widely shared images constitute evidence of "illegal campaigning" by Democrats in a Philadelphia polling station?

Why no rating on this article? This is a trending topic but has not yet been rated by Snopes for reasons we’ll outline below.

On U.S. Election Day 2020, Nov. 3, the reelection campaign of President Donald Trump, and others, promoted and shared content on Twitter that claimed to present evidence of "illegal campaigning inside of a polling station" in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Mike Roman, from the Trump 2020 campaign, tweeted out two photographs — one that appeared to show a man in a polling station handing a leaflet to a prospective voter, and the other that appeared to be a close-up picture of a sample Democratic ballot, a form of election campaigning. Roman added the following description:

"ILLEGAL campaigning INSIDE of a polling location in Philly. Man in blue is handing out DEM literature to voters IN LINE TO VOTE. This is why DEMS are keeping TRUMP WATCHERS OUT. They are STEALING it! This needs to STOP!"

His tweet was retweeted by the right-wing actor James Woods, as well as the @TeamTrump Twitter account, which is operated by the Trump campaign:

There was no way to tell from the photographs whether the close-up picture of the sample Democratic ballot was, in fact, the document purportedly given to voters in the first photographs.

Although we haven't yet been able to definitively determine whether this content is accurate or authentic, we have observed that it has certain traits that are often indicative of misinformation:

  • The claim has not yet been confirmed by official sources
  • It appears this claim is being shared widely by only one political faction
  • The caption or description associated with the image(s) or video appears designed to inflame the viewer's emotions

The presence of those traits does not necessarily mean that the claim or content is bogus, but it does mean you should certainly be wary of sharing it online.

Snopes has asked the relevant authorities in Philadelphia for clarification and details about the images shown in the tweet, and Roman's description of them.

If we receive more information, we will update this post.

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Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.